A/N: I'm absolutely blown away by the response for this. I mean, I posted this before heading out to lunch with friends and came home to 60+ emails related to this baby! You all are amazing and I appreciate all the alerts and reviews 3

I also have to thank my amazing beta purplehrdwonder for helping me with this chapter and for working on it so quickly!

Chapter 2

The hustle and bustle of the city had been a welcome distraction for Kurt the past few weeks. But some days it didn't matter how busy things became or how loud the streets were. His thoughts would somehow find a way to drift back to Blaine and his confession. Today seemed to be one of those days.

With a sigh, Kurt stepped off the elevator and began to dig his keys out of his coat pocket. Work had been rough to say the least. He'd made more little mistakes than he could even count, and it grated on his last nerve. Isabelle hadn't been mad, but she had suggested that he go home early to get some rest. He knew she could tell he was still off his game. He had a sneaking suspicion it was the whole reason she had given him a week off for Thanksgiving so he could go back to Ohio.

He just didn't know if it would feel like home anymore.

Kurt unlocked his door and stepped inside the newly furnished living room. He was about to greet a studying Rachel when his phone began ringing inside his pocket. He pulled it out, frowning a little as he saw Finn's name blink across the screen. They hadn't spoken on the phone much since the disastrous trip. They'd really only texted and emailed to keep in touch.

"Hello?" Kurt said into his phone. Rachel looked up at his confused tone. He mouthed Finn's name to her, trying to ignore the pain flash across her face so he could focus on his stepbrother.

"Kurt! Hey! Listen, um, are you busy? I didn't catch you at work or something, did I?"

"No, just got home actually. What's going on?" Kurt could hear some loud and somewhat familiar sounds in the background. He just couldn't quite place what they were. "Where are you? It sounds loud."

"Oh! Sorry dude! I'm at the hospital and can't find somewhere quiet. Sorry. I can—"

"Hospital?" Kurt snapped, making Rachel jump from her place on the couch and turn back to where Kurt was now starting to pace. "Finn, what's going on? Is Dad…did Dad have another heart—"

"No! Dude, no! Damn, sorry! I can't get this out right; I'm so sorry! Burt and Mom are perfectly fine."

"Are you?"

"Other than making you freak out, yes. I'm good too."

"Ok...so why are you at the hospital, ?" Kurt ran a hand through his hair, not caring that he was surely messing it up.

"Well, you remember how I said I was co-directing Grease?"

"Yeah…"

"Rehearsals didn't go so well today."

"Finn, for the love of all things fashionably holy, what happened?"

"Blaine fell off some steps while rehearsing 'Beauty School Dropout' and had to have surgery."

Kurt sat there for a moment in shock, not sure what to say. Blaine was in the hospital. His Blaine who hated hospitals. Who had been in them way too much for Kurt's liking given the Sadie Hawkins disaster and the slushie incident. His Blaine who seemed to look too small in the oversized beds was lying unconscious and broken in a hospital.

"Shit! Kurt? Are you there? I didn't mean to blurt that out like that! It's just been a long day. Please say you're still there!"

"I-I'm here," Kurt finally answered, trying to calm his erratic breathing. "Is-Is he ok? I mean, he's in the hospital so that's probably a stupid question but—"

"He's going to be fine. I mean, he's in pretty rough shape but the doctors said he'd be fine."

"Why'd he have surgery then?"

"He fell on his arm and messed it up. Like, the bone was sticking out and everything. Was pretty gruesome, man."

Kurt shuddered and finally sank down onto the couch next to Rachel. He felt her take his shaking hand in her own, but he didn't say anything. "But he'll be ok?"

"Yeah, they cleaned him up and set the bone. He's just really doped up right now, but he was awake earlier at least."

"Good, that's good." Kurt bit his lip for a moment. "I-I am glad you called me, but why? Why call me to tell me this? Did Blaine ask? I just—"

"He didn't ask. I just…if it was Rachel I knew I'd want you to call me."

Kurt nodded, even though he knew Finn wouldn't see. He could understand that. "Thank you. C-Can you maybe keep me updated on him? Just, a text or something?"

"Yeah, dude, I can do that. Do you want me to have Blaine call you?"

"No," Kurt quickly answered. "I can't…I don't want to…Finn?"

"Hey calm down! I won't have him call. I just wanted to double check. I'll text you; I promise."

"Thank you," Kurt sighed.

"Be careful, little brother. I'll see you soon!"

"Thanks again," Kurt replied, not even bothering to correct the little brother comment. Instead, he hung up the call and let his head fall against the back of the couch. He felt tears sting at the back of his eyes, and he mentally cursed his emotions. He shouldn't care. He knew that. But for some reason, he just did. He couldn't get the image of a battered and bloody Blaine out of his mind and it was killing him.

He could feel Rachel's gaze on him and knew she was getting anxious by the way she continued to grip his hand. With a sigh, he sat back up to face her.

"So, what was all that about?" Rachel gently asked. She bit her lip and shifting nervously. "Did something happen to Finn?"

"Finn's fine." Kurt ran a hand over his face tiredly.

"Then what's wrong? I wasn't trying to listen but…"

"We live in an open apartment that echoes and it's impossible not to listen?"

"Yeah," she replied with a soft smile "So what happened?"

Kurt looked down at his hands in his lap. "Blaine's in the hospital," he muttered.

"What?" Rachel gasped. "Oh my God! What happened? Is he ok? Was anyone else hurt?"

"Slow down, Rach," Kurt huffed. "Finn didn't say anyone else was hurt so I'm guessing just Blaine. He was rehearsing for Grease and he fell down steps. He broke his arm pretty bad and had to have surgery." He felt his throat constrict as images of Blaine laying in a boneless heap on the stage assaulted his mind.

"Fell down steps?" Rachel's brow knit in confusion. "I don't remember Danny Zuko ever being on steps for the play. Are you sure he didn't fall from the car or something in 'Greased Lightning'?"

Kurt shook his head. "Finn told me last week that Blaine isn't Zuko. He's Teen Angel so he has those steps he has to use at the beginning and end of his scene."

"Wait…Blaine isn't Danny?" Rachel's eyes were wide and her mouth hung agape in her shock. "Did they get some amazing new kids that are better? I mean, I know they can't compare to last year's performance of West Side Story but I—"

"No," Kurt interrupted. "Finn said Blaine didn't want the lead. I don't really know, Rachel." Kurt ran a hand through his hair. "I was just as surprised as you."

"Wow," Rachel mumbled. "Blaine turned down the lead? That doesn't sound like something he'd do."

"Yeah well, Blaine seems to be doing a lot of things that aren't like him," Kurt snapped. He jolted up from the couch and headed to the kitchen to make himself a strong cup of coffee as a distraction. Unfortunately Rachel followed.

She reached around him and took the cup from his hands. Before he could protest she pulled him into a hug. "I'm sorry," she whispered in his ear.

"I know." He sagged into the hug. "Me too." He squeezed her shoulder and broke the hug. "I just…I don't know what to think." Rachel rubbed his arm as he took a deep breath to compose himself. "Why do I still care?"

"Because it's Blaine."

"But he—"

"I know. But he's still Blaine."

And wasn't that just the problem? It was still Blaine. His Blaine. Blaine, who had been his everything for years and who had shattered it all in one night. The same Blaine who was apparently now laying in a hospital in Ohio.

Rachel leaned up and kissed Kurt on the cheek. "Hey, why don't you come out to dinner with me and Brody? I'm supposed to meet him in a few minutes anyway. It would be fun."

Kurt inwardly groaned at the idea of feeling like a third wheel once again. "No thanks, Rach. Think I'm just going to change and hang out here. Don't feel like going out."

"Are you sure? I can always stay and order in or—"

"Go out and have fun." Kurt gently pushed her towards her closet and pulled out an outfit for her. "You look too fabulous to be hiding out indoors anyway."

"And you don't?" Rachel giggled.

Her tone seemed almost forced, but Kurt tried to plaster on a fake smile. He didn't feel fabulous…he hadn't for a while now. Not since that night in Battery Park. Rachel didn't seem to notice though. So he continued to fuss over her outfit and makeup before she finally left to go meet Brody for dinner.

Once the door was safely closed and locked behind her, Kurt made a beeline for his section of the apartment. He changed into some comfortable sweats and pulled out his laptop. He settled onto his bed and logged into Facebook, immediately regretting it when most of his timeline was covered with posts about Blaine and get-well wishes from the gleeks. He knew he needed to de-friend Blaine, but he hadn't been able to. Not yet.

With a sigh, he closed his laptop and tossed it across his bed. He pulled the covers up to his shoulders and burrowed into his fluffy pillows. It took all his strength not to reach over and dig out the framed picture of Blaine that was hidden away in the drawer of his nightstand. Hearing about Blaine from Finn was bringing up a lot of feelings Kurt didn't want to think about tonight…or any night for that matter.

Kurt checked his phone one last time to see if Finn had sent him any more messages. There was one new text from his step brother, saying that Carole had checked on Blaine and that he was sleeping peacefully for now. Kurt breathed a sight of relief that turned into a groan.

He didn't want to be happy that Blaine was alright. He didn't. But he couldn't not be happy that Blaine was ok.

Kurt tossed his phone over onto the nightstand, his fingers itching to send a get-well text to Blaine. He rolled away and closed his eyes, focusing on the fact that he would be home with his family in a week and could hopefully find a way to avoid Blaine while there. Because he didn't know what he would do if he saw the boy any time soon. He really didn't.

~0~

Burt's foot tapped anxiously as he waited on the elevator to reach Blaine's floor. Kurt came by his hatred for hospitals honestly. Burt couldn't stand being in them. He rarely visited Carole at work, opting to pick her up and take her to dinner or meet at a restaurant during her lunch. Being inside hospitals just brought back too many painful memories.

But he had to do this today. Carole had texted him earlier, saying that Blaine was much more coherent now that his medication had been stepped down from the strong morphine and that he was adamant that he didn't need to stay with them.

Burt sighed in relief as the elevator finally pinged and the doors opened. He sent a few smiles and waves to Carole's coworkers on his way to Blaine room. Once at the door, he paused as he heard Carole saying something to Blaine. He decided to listen for a moment before going in.

"Blaine," he heard her say, "you are not going home to an empty house when you just had surgery yesterday! End of discussion! We'll be happy to have you."

Blaine started to argue back. Burt couldn't make out his side of the conversation as easily, but the word "burden" seemed to be coming up quite a bit. With another sigh, Burt pushed the door open and shuffled into Blaine's room.

Blaine immediately stopped talking when he noticed Burt; the poor kid looked shocked to see him there. Burt used the time to take stock of Blaine; he was still very pale and his bruises had turned a deep shade of purple. But his eyes looked much clearer than they had yesterday.

"Mr. Hummel?" Blaine sputtered. He tried to sit up in bed but ended up falling back against the pillows with a pained look. "Wh-What are you doing here? I mean, not that I don't appreciate it, but—"

"Take a breath and relax before you hurt yourself," Burt chuckled, hoping to calm the boy. He stepped toward the bed and pulled a chair up next to Blaine. "How ya feelin' kiddo?"

Blaine still seemed in shock at it all with the way he blinked over at Burt and looked to Carole. "I'm fine, Mr. Hummel. Thank you for asking, sir."

"Mr. Hummel? Sir? Kid, I thought we were past the formal names over a year ago?"

Blaine bit his lip. "I just thought…given everything I did…"

Burt nodded sadly and leaned forward, taking Blaine's good hand in his. "Listen, whatever happened is between you and Kurt. Am I thrilled about what you did? Of course not!" Blaine flinched and looked as if he wanted to pull away. "But, that doesn't change the fact that I care about you."

"But I—"

"Blaine, right now I'm more worried about how you feel than what you did. And I know that you're lying through your teeth when you say that you're feeling ok. You look like crap and I'd say you don't definitely feel any better. Am I right?"

Blaine sighed and closed his eyes. "Yes, sir."

"That's better, but stop with the sirs, Blaine. You don't have to go back to that. I'm still just Burt." He waited for Blaine to nod before continuing. "Now what's this I hear about you not wanting to stay with us?"

"I will be fine at my house, si—Burt."

"Are your parents coming home early?"

"Well…no." Blaine looked down at his lap, flexing the fingers of his injured arm slightly. He licked his dry lips and tried to shift up higher on the pillows. He ended up grimacing as the motion pulled on his sore body. "But I'll be fine. I can take care of myself. I've done it plenty of times. And our maid comes by a couple of times a week. I can always have her help me with some things while she's there." He didn't return Burt's gaze until after he had finished speaking, and even then it looked like he would rather be anywhere else.

"Blaine, sweetie," Carole spoke up, "you're going to need more help than just once or twice a week. You're only going to have use of one arm and will need someone to help you keep your medications straight." She shook her head." I don't think you're going to be able to handle everything right now."

Blaine looked back down at his hands dejectedly. "I don't want to be a bother," he muttered.

It broke Burt's heart and, not for the first time, made him want to hunt down the Andersons for making Blaine feel like he couldn't ask for help from someone.

"Listen to me," Burt said sternly but affectionately, "you will never be a bother. Got it?" Blaine nodded, but Burt got the feeling the kid didn't truly believe it. Blaine still wouldn't make eye contact with him. "And we're bringing you home with us when you get released."

"Ok," Blaine sighed in defeat. He sagged back against the pillows, clearly exhausted from putting up a fight and pretending he was fine.

"Now, Finn and I are going to your house today to pick up some things for you. Clothes, books, your laptop, whatever you want. I just need a way in," Burt explained.

Blaine massaged his forehead with his uninjured hand. "My keys are in the drawer." He paused to point at the bedside table before rubbing at his temples once more.

"Burt and Finn will take care of everything," Carole assured. "And I am going to go talk to your doctor about upping your pain medicines a little again. You shouldn't be in this much pain." She grabbed his hands from where it was rubbing near his stitches and smoothed his hair away from the bandage. "Why don't you get some sleep in the meantime?"

Blaine looked like he wanted to argue once more but withered at the stern looks both Burt and Carole sent him. Instead, he snuggled down into the uncomfortably thin mattress, allowing his exhaustion to win out over his stubbornness.

Carole fussed over him a little more while Burt found Blaine's keys in the drawer. Once he found them, he leaned over to give Carole a kiss on the cheek. "I'm going to pick up Finn and head over to Blaine's. You think I'm good with some clothes, his laptop, and a few books?"

"I'd say so," she whispered. "We should have everything else that he needs at the house. Sam said he would grab Blaine's bag today. Emma locked it up in her office after he was taken to the hospital so that no one would take anything. It should have his phone and wallet."

"Ok, if you think of anything else just call me."

"Will do, babe."

Burt sent Blaine, who was thankfully asleep, one last look before leaving and picking Finn up from McKinley. The two of them headed towards Blaine's house in silence. Burt had been there before, but this trip felt different. It didn't feel right going there when Blaine wasn't home, but they didn't have a choice.

"I forgot how huge this place is," Finn gaped as they pulled into the long driveway leading to the modern Colonial styled house. The yard immaculately kept with the neatly cut grass and vast amount of landscaping, as was the interior of the house once they entered. Kurt had talked Burt's ear off about the decorating after his first time at the Anderson's. There were too many expensive paintings and not enough happy family photos along the walls. Burt couldn't imagine trying to kick back on the antique looking furniture to watch a football game.

While Burt knew the place looked great, it just didn't feel like a home. With the way Blaine never seemed to want to leave their house, Burt kind of thought Blaine felt the same.

"I couldn't live here by myself," Finn said suddenly, looking around at all the glass and heavy wood furniture. "Pretty sure I'd break something. Not sure how Blaine does it."

Burt wanted to smile at Finn's comment on his clumsiness, but he just couldn't bring himself to. "Me neither, bud. Why don't we just grab Blaine's things and go home?"

Finn nodded and started off towards the stairs. Both men couldn't help but gasp at the state of Blaine's room. From the times Burt and Finn had visited Blaine when he had his surgery, it was always as clean and organized as the rest of the house, just with more touches of Blaine. But today, it was an absolute wreck and did not feel like Blaine at all.

There were oversized t-shirts and sweatshirts all over the floor. In the few years that Burt had known Blaine, he'd never seen the kid wear anything like them before. There were also socks and random, mismatched pairs of shoes tossed all around by their feet. Blaine's desk overflowed with textbooks and sheet music, so much so that it had started to spill over onto the carpet. His keyboard had just as much sheet music amassed on top of it. There were mugs piled up from what Burt assumed were way too many cups of late night coffee.

On the other side of the room, Blaine's unmade bed and the nightstand looked just as cluttered as the desk. There were a couple of pairs of jeans lying haphazardly at the foot of the bed. At the head by the pillows lay a few pictures of Kurt as well as a stuffed dog. There were a couple more pictures on the nightstand, along with a stack of ACT and SAT prep books and college applications.

Burt stepped towards the bed and picked up a few of the applications. He smiled as he noticed they were for schools in New York. But the smile quickly faded when he started to see just how many pictures Blaine had of Kurt out.

Just how hurt was the kid?

"I can't believe he kept it," Finn said, drawing Burt out of his thoughts.

Burt looked up to see Finn holding the dog on the other side of the bed. "What is it?" Burt asked, setting the papers and pictures back where he had found them.

"Kurt stole this from me when we went to Six Flags. It was when Cooper was in town and Blaine didn't feel like going with us. So Kurt stole the smallest thing he could from the pile of stuffed animals Rachel had me win for her." Finn held up the dog and shook it. "He gave it to Blaine to make him feel better or something." Finn shrugged and put it back on the bed.

Burt's heart broke a little more. It was fairly obvious that Blaine had been sleeping, or at least trying to sleep, with the dog. In fact, it looked like the only way Blaine had tried to sleep was with everything that reminded him of Kurt piled up around him.

"Look in Blaine's closet for a duffel bag or suitcase so we can start packing for him, Finn," Burt ordered, wanting to get out of the Anderson house as quickly as possible. Being in there was just making it all the more clear that Blaine needed someone right now.

Once Finn found a large Dalton duffel, the two quickly found what appeared to be clean pajamas and underwear for Blaine. They managed to find some comfortable clothes that still looked like something Blaine would wear out just in case he needed to. Finn dug Blaine's laptop bag out as well and packed it up for the boy while Burt looked for some books he remembered Blaine enjoying to read.

"Is there anything else we need?" Finn asked, standing in the doorway with the duffel bag and laptop.

"I think that's everything." Burt replied, glancing around the cluttered room once more. "Go ahead down to the truck. I'll double check and lock up."

As soon as Finn was out of the room, Burt turned back to the bed and picked up the dog. He rubbed a finger over its fuzzy ear before tucking it inside his coat. With that he headed off to get the house ready for its newest guest.

~0~

Blaine was discharged the next day with copious amounts of antibiotics and pain meds. He spent most of the car ride home asleep in the backseat. The doctors had given him a strong dose of painkillers before he had left the hospital, knowing that the ride to Burt and Carole's house would no doubt jostle his arm painfully.

Burt pulled into the driveway as easily as possible and cut the engine. Carole slid out from the passenger seat and went to gently wake Blaine. Burt climbed out behind her so that he could unlock the door; he then went back to help Blaine out of the car.

"Sweetie?" Carole prodded. "You think you can make it inside?"

Blaine blinked fiercely, as if trying to concentrate hard on what Carole was telling him. Burt couldn't get over how young he looked just then. His hair was a mess of unruly curls and he looked especially small in the roomy sweats.

"Blaine? Can you walk by yourself bud?" Burt asked. "I don't think I can carry you. And Finn and Sam are still at the school right now. You think you can make it to the door if we walk beside you?"

"Mmm," Blaine groaned as he nodded.

Burt wasn't too sure he believed the kid, but he let Blaine scoot to the edge of the seat on his own and helped steady him when he stepped out of the car. Blaine swayed terribly and probably would have fallen if Burt and Carole hadn't been right there anticipating it.

"Easy," Burt soothed, hating the way Blaine whimpered as his arm was jostled. "Let us help ya, ok?"

Burt and Carole didn't wait for Blaine to acknowledge them. They just started shuffling towards the front porch, keeping him in between them and moving extremely slowly. It wasn't the easiest thing they'd ever done, but they managed to make it inside the house without another incident. The steps up to Kurt's room were just as rough, and Burt had to tighten his grip on Blaine more than once to steady the groggy boy.

Burt was relieved when they reached the second floor and made it down the hall to Kurt's room. Carole stepped in ahead of them to turn down the fresh sheets and make last minute adjustments for Blaine. Once he was sure his wife was finished, Burt started to push Blaine towards the room.

But Blaine didn't budge.

"Blaine?" Burt muttered. "Come on. You can go back to bed. Just come-"

"No," Blaine stated with wide eyes and a panicked face, surprising Burt. Blaine had barely spoken since leaving the hospital.

"Blaine?" Burt gently tugged on Blaine's good arm, but Blaine shrugged out of reach and started backing away until he collided with the wall across from Kurt's door.

"Th-That's K-Kurt's room. I can't….I just can't stay there. No." He shook his head fiercely.

"What's going on?" Carole asked, stepping back into the hall, glancing between Burt and Blaine.

Blaine kept shaking his head. "I can't take K-Kurt's room. I don't want to take his space. He wouldn't want—"

"Blaine," Burt said softly, "Kurt would want you to be comfortable and not hurting."

"Can't I stay in the guest r-room?" Blaine's eyes shined with unshed tears and his breathing sounded ragged and panicked.

"I'm sorry, bud," Burt replied. "We converted the guest room to an office so I can work from home some when I'm not in D.C."

"Wh-what about Finn's room? I can sleep on the fl-floor!"

Burt hated the way Blaine shrank into himself and started to tremble. "Sam's already on the floor in there. I have no idea how he manages with as much crap as Finn has all over the place, so there is no way we could fit someone else in there."

"Then I'll take the couch!" Blaine pleaded. "Please don't make me stay in there. Please, Mr. Hummel. I just…please."

Burt sighed and stepped towards Blaine. He reached up and put a hand on the boy's shaking shoulder, frowning when Blaine tensed at the touch. "Blaine, take a breath, kid." Burt pulled Blaine away from the wall and toward his chest. Blaine allowed the hug, but didn't embrace it the way he used to. He remained stiff and unsure in Burt's arms.

"Please," he muttered one last time into Burt's shirt.

"No," Burt replied, not unkindly. "You can't sleep on the couch."

"But—"

"It's too small. You could roll off in your sleep way too easily. And what are you going to do if you land on your arm? You'd end right back up in the hospital probably looking at another surgery. So, no. I'm sorry, Blaine." Burt let Blaine pull away from the hug but kept his hand on Blaine's back, rubbing it gently. He sent the boy a sad smile.

Blaine sniffled but didn't say anything. He did however allow Burt and Carole to pull him into Kurt's room at last. He remained stiff and uneasy as Carole helped remove his shoes and thick sweatshirt. He did let Carole and Burt help him lay down under the covers so that he wouldn't hurt himself.

"If you need anything just yell, sweetheart," she said with a reassuring smile

Blaine nodded, already half asleep yet somehow still tense, his emotions having drained what little energy he had had. Burt hated it—hated that Blaine couldn't relax in the one place he used to feel so comfortable. With a sigh, Burt walked over to the duffel bag and dug around until he found the stuffed dog. Without a word, he placed it near Blaine's hand.

Before stepping out into the hallway, Burt sent Blaine one final glance, smiling at the way the kid had already pulled the dog against his chest and snuggled into Kurt's old pillows. Burt just hoped things would go smoothly for the night.

And for the most part, it did. Sam and Finn came home a few hours later, bringing a batch of get-well cards and even a tub of cookies courtesy of Tina for Blaine. Finn tried to stay out of the way, still not sure of what to say to Blaine. But Sam went straight up to see Blaine and stayed there while he was awake for a part of the afternoon, watching movies, keeping him company, and even getting him to eat a few bites of food at dinner. Burt was never more grateful that they had taken in Sam last year.

But now he really wished that someone else in the house would be awake to help him figure out what the hell that noise was.

He had woken up from a restless sleep to something echoing through the second floor. Carole hadn't budged, too tired from her early shift and helping Blaine. Burt huffed to himself and pushed himself out of bed. He made his way toward Finn and Sam's room, ready to lecture them on late night gaming sessions like he had done so many times over the past year. But he opened the door to see both of them sound asleep. He heard the noise again, only it was louder.

"Boys can sleep through a damn earthquake," he yawned to himself. He tried to listen closely and finally found the source of the noise—Blaine's room.

Burt poked the door open and stuck his head inside. "Shit," he cursed under his breath as he caught sight of Blaine. The boy was curled up in a tight ball, whimpering and crying into a pillow. He was shaking so badly that most of the blankets had been pushed off of his body. Even though it looked like he was trying to be quiet, he wasn't succeeding. He sounded more pained by the moment.

"Blaine?" Burt gently called as he walked into the room. He hurried over to the bed and ran a hand up and down Blaine's trembling back. The kid mumbled something into the pillow and groaned again. "Buddy? What's wrong?"

"H-Hurts," Blaine repeated a little louder. He shifted so that the pillow no longer hid his face. There were tear tracks running down his pale cheeks from his reddened eyes. He looked like a mess.

"Blaine, when was the last time you took your pain pills?"

Blaine sniffled into the pillow. "Dunno…before dinner?"

Burt inwardly groaned. That had been hours ago, way past the time for a new dose. "Why didn't you yell? We told you to if you needed anything."

Blaine closed his eyes. "Didn't wanna bother you."

"Blaine—"

"I'm always a bother," Blaine slurred. "I hate it. I don't wanna be a bother. Makes people leave."

"Blaine, buddy, stop," Burt chastised softly.

"Everyone…my parents…Kurt! If I were different…if I wasn't a nu-nuisance they wouldn't leave. Didn't wanna bother you."

Burt felt a few tears of his own slip down his cheek. "Shhh. You are not a bother, Blaine. You are allowed to ask for help, especially right now." Burt carded his fingers through Blaine's curls, trying to comfort him. "Don't ever feel like you can't come to us."

Blaine didn't respond, just curled up tighter against the pain. Burt squeezed his uninjured shoulder and went to go find Blaine's meds. He found them in the bathroom across the hall. He filled a throwaway cup with water and grabbed a few pills, opting for the maximum dosage. He returned to the bedroom and quickly gave Blaine the medicine.

Instead of going straight back to his bedroom, Burt stayed with Blaine for a few minutes, making sure the boy relaxed and fell asleep. He ended up staying long after Blaine had passed out, just watching the way he was still tense even in sleep.

Burt made a promise then that he would get to the bottom of this. He wouldn't allow Blaine to continue to feel like this. Not if he could help it.

~0~

Blaine stirred with a groan as the sun streamed through the curtains. He tried to roll over, but jarred his arm in the process and woke himself up even more. He lifted his head off the pillow and looked around the room in confusion, momentarily forgetting where he was. It took a few minutes before he remembered—Kurt's bedroom.

It looked very different from the last time he had been in there, when Kurt was still living at home and the shelves were filled with Kurt's favorite books and photos. Now, the room felt empty without his mother's old mirror and vanity that Kurt loved so much and the old knick-knacks he secretly adored.

It didn't feel like Kurt and Blaine didn't feel like he should be there.

With another groan, Blaine gently leaned towards the nightstand in search of his cell. It took far too much effort to reach the phone, and Blaine felt like throwing it across the room when he realized the battery was dead and all that effort was for nothing. He had no idea where is charger even was.

He felt like he just couldn't get anything right.

Blaine was sorely tempted to go back to sleep and forget it all when the bedroom door opened, revealing Burt and a tray of sweet smelling pancakes.

"Good," Burt greeted. "You're awake." He stepped into the room and placed the tray on the nightstand. "How do you feel?"

"Ok," Blaine said, despite the fact that his arm was throbbing and his ribs were aching.

"Liar," Burt sighed, picking up the bottle of pain pills and shaking them in Blaine's direction. "You can have some of these after you eat."

Blaine eyed the food warily. "Not really hungry, sir."

"Tough…you have to eat in order to have the medicine, kiddo. So," Burt pointed towards the tray of syrupy pancakes and bacon, "you're going to eat."

"But sir—"

"What did I say about the sirs, Blaine?"

Blaine huffed and stared down at his lap. Just can't get anything right. "Sorry."

"Hey," Burt said softly, sitting down on the bed, "none of that." Blaine continued to avoid Burt's gaze until he felt Burt's rough hands gently push his chin up, making him meet the older man's eyes. "Listen to me, you don't have to be sorry for anything."

Blaine couldn't help but scoff loudly, because he sure as hell felt like he had hundreds of things to be sorry for right now. Not going to Kurt when he was unhappy, going to Eli's house that night, getting the words all wrong when talking to Kurt…the list when on and on.

"Blaine? Did you hear me?" Burt asked.

"No, sorry si—I mean Burt."

"Blaine, what's wrong?"

"Nothing," Blaine replied. "I'm fine." He knew he didn't sound very convincing, but he desperately hoped Burt wouldn't notice.

"No offense, kid, but I'm pretty sure you're anything but fine."

Blaine bit his lip, steeling himself for whatever Burt was going to do. He knew he deserved whatever Burt would deal out to him. He'd screwed up; he'd hurt Burt's baby. He knew there was no going back from that with this man.

"Now, I want you to tell me what is wrong," Burt gently prodded. "I know there's something up. Hell, I should've known when Kurt told me you cheated." Blaine couldn't help but flinch. "You want to explain what's going on?"

"I-I just screwed up," Blaine replied, still avoiding Burt's eyes. "It was stupid and I don't know why I did it."

"I think you have it half right," Burt continued, still keeping his voice gentle. "It was a stupid move but I think you have an idea of why you did it, bud."

Blaine shook his head vehemently. "I don't."

"Blaine I—"

"I just don't!" Blaine snapped. His eyes widened when he realized he had just yelled at Burt. "Oh God, I'm sorry, Mr. Hummel. I—"

"Take a breath," Burt ordered.

Blaine obeyed obediently. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have yelled."

"Probably not, but something tells me you needed to."

"But I—"

"Have you talked to anyone about the breakup or what happened?"

Blaine shook his head and looked toward the window.

"Ok, then talk," Burt softly said. "Talk to me. Stop bottling things up until you burst! Or until you get so loopy from pain or medicine."

"Oh God," Blaine groaned.

"I take it you don't remember much of our late night talk do you?" Burt slowly questioned with a raised eyebrow.

"I really wish I did," Blaine huffed. "What did I say?"

"Not a whole lot really," Burt sighed. "Mainly how you thought you were a burden to everyone and that it made people, mainly your parents and Kurt, leave."

Blaine felt his face flare with red in embarassment and his eyes widen. Oh God…this wasn't happening!

"You want to tell me what that was about? Because I think you really need to."

Blaine's throat constricted and his mouth ran dry. "I-I didn't mean that. It didn't mean anything."

"I think it did." Burt reached over and squeezed Blaine's shoulder. "And I think you need to tell me what it meant."

"Nothing…"

Burt sighed and ran a hand over his face. "How long have your parents really been gone?"

"Wh-What?"

"Look, your house looked like no one had been living in any room but yours in a long time. So, how long have they been gone?"

"I don't know." Blaine licked his cracked lips. "Since school started maybe."

"So around the same time Kurt left for New York?"

Blaine shifted uncomfortable, not wanting to talk about it. "Something like that. But it isn't a big deal. I'm eighteen. I'm fine."

"So fine that you went to a some guy's house that you met on Facebook? Because I have to tell you, that sure as hell doesn't sound fine, kid."

"How? How did you find out about that?"

"Kurt," Burt quickly answered. "My son tends to tell me everything when he's upset."

Blaine flinched once again and drew his knees up towards his chest, not caring that it hurt his ribs to do so.

"Relax before you hurt yourself." Burt patted Blaine's leg until he let them fall back onto the mattress. "And please tell me what you were thinking when you went to some strange guy's house."

"He wasn't a stranger!" Blaine defended. "We'd talked on Facebook a few times."

"And everyone is always completely honest online, right?" Burt scoffed. "You know better than that! You're smarter than that. You should have known that it wasn't safe to meet up with a random guy from the Internet."

"I can take care of myself!" Blaine snapped, jolting in bed a bit. "I'm quite used to taking care of myself, sir. I've been doing it for a long time. I knew how to handle myself!"

"Blaine, I don't care how old you are or how used to taking care of yourself you are, that wasn't smart!"

"Fine," Blaine huffed. "Maybe I'm just not smart then! After all, I'm the one who told Kurt to go to New York and leave me alone!" Blaine bit his lip and looked out toward the window once more. "Yeah, I'm really smart…"

"What you did for Kurt was—"

"It was what? Good? I know it was good for Kurt. He was drowning in this damn city." Blaine ran his good hand through his messy curls, not caring that it only made them frizzier. "I know how it feels. I hated seeing him that way. I never wanted him to feel that way."

Burt nodded slowly. "Because you knew that feeling."

Blaine finally looked back at Burt, hating the way his throat was suddenly clogging with emotions and how tears were prickly at the back of his eyes.

"Because you still know that feeling," Burt corrected.

"I—"

"How long have you felt that way?"

Blaine bit his lip anxiously. "I don't know."

"Because you've felt this way for too long?"

Blaine wanted nothing more than to run away, but his body wouldn't allow it. He was trapped. "Just stop," Blaine pleaded.

"I'm not leaving this alone."

"Well then, you're the only one," Blaine mumbled, hoping Burt wouldn't hear. But just like with everything else lately, luck wasn't on his side.

"You feel alone," Burt said, casting him with a sad look. "How did I not see it?"

"No offense, Burt, but it wasn't your place to see it," Blaine huffed.

"You can think that all you want, but like I told you in the hospital, I care. So that makes it my place and you're going to have to just get used to it. Because like it or not, I'm not going anywhere."

"Then you're the first," Blaine wearily replied. He wished his mouth would quit moving. He wanted this to be over and to stop saying things like that to Burt.

"Kurt felt the same way about you. Hell, he still does."

"No he doesn't," Blaine gaped. "He wants nothing to do with me!"

"Maybe not right now, but it won't last. I know my kid." Burt sent him a wink. "And I also know that you can't keep bottling things up if you want it to work out with him. You shouldn't do that to yourself. You need to talk to someone."

"But he wouldn't talk to me. He was so busy with his new job and his new life and I—"

"It doesn't have to be Kurt," Burt interrupted, squeezing Blaine's good hand. "It can be me, your brother, your friends, Miss Pillsbury, anyone! You aren't alone and you don't deserve to feel that way. Ok?"

Blaine sniffled and nodded. He'd gotten so used to not relying on others, but the idea of having people there was really nice for a change.

"Good," Burt sighed in relief. "Now, not sure your food is all that hot but you still need to eat something. Don't think I didn't notice how much weight you've lost. I'm going to go make a fresh batch of these and then you are going to eat them."

"Yes, sir," Blaine replied with a small smile. "Wait, don't you have to go into the shop? I can fix myself something. It's no big deal."

"I don't think you could make it down the stairs, bud. And no, I don't have work. I thought I'd take the day off to spend with you."

"But—"

"Finn bought me this really great boxset of OSU's greatest plays. Figured you might like to watch it with me later." Burt sent him one last smile before heading down to the kitchen.

Blaine sagged back against his pillows, that small smile still in place. Maybe things could get better.

~0~

Kurt winced as the front door squeaked when he opened it and the floor creaked under his feet. It was late, and he didn't want to wake anyone. He wanted it to be a surprise in the morning, not a late night scare.

He moved slowly into the old house, being mindful of every loose board and piece of furniture. He just had to deal with the steps and then he'd be safely tucked away in his room until morning.

His own door thankfully wasn't as loud as the front door. He breathed a sigh of relief as he entered the dark room and tossed his bags into the corner. He'd deal with them in the morning. Right now, he just wanted to climb into bed and catch a few hours of sleep.

He toed off his designer boots and traded his skinny jeans for a pair of yoga pants. He tugged off his layers of shirts until he made it to the plain undershirt. With a sigh, he pulled back the covers and slid into his old bed. He started to snuggle into the familiar pillows when his body connected with something…or someone as he soon realized.

Kurt flailed his arms and legs out in his surprise, hitting the person hard and eliciting a pained scream. It only caused Kurt's panic to rise and his flailing to worsen, especially when the sheets became tangled around him and trapped him in the bed.

The overhead lights suddenly came on and his dad started yelling something. But Kurt couldn't make anything out. His focus was now on the person in his bed.

"Blaine?"